The fitness expert and creator of the My Fitness by Jillian Michaels app has watched her health from a young age. Today, it’s more important than ever that kids do the same.
What motivated you to start exercising as a teenager?
I wasn’t motivated. I actually fell into martial arts when my parents were divorcing, and over time it began to empower me and build my self-esteem. From there, I became inspired to strive towards being fit and strong.
How did exercising from a young age benefit your life?
Fitness is transcendent. When you feel strong physically, it empowers you in all facets of your life. Gradual, successive accomplishments over the course of my personal journey built my confidence and belief in my abilites.
What exercises and activities do you find to be the most engaging and motivating?
I love mixed martial arts, parkour, yoga, and weight training. Basically, things that require strength and that allow you to quantifiably measure progress. Whether it’s being able to do your first crow pose, a 100-pound squat, or a jump spinning back kick, these things require mental focus as well as physical ability. The incremental progress we make in training with these modalities is very inspiring.
What advice would you give to parents looking to motivate their kids to be more active?
Lead by example! Ultimately, you are your kids’ best role model. Show them that living healthy is living better — that it’s synonymous with power, strength, energy, and vitality. Introduce them to activities that they’ll find fun, like surfing, skiing, skating, bike riding, and sports. Make play active so it’s one and the same with fitness for them.
What would you say is the biggest hurdle that is keeping kids from being active?
Unfortunately, this is a battle that needs to be fought on a myriad of fronts. I think screen time is a huge issue. When I was a kid, the social network was called “outside.” Now, between iPhones, iPads, computers, video games, even the TV… there is just too much to distract and deter them. Plus, we are busy as parents, more so than ever — also distracted by too much work via screens. And we often neglect our own fitness and self-care, which is a terrible example to set. Plus, we don’t carve out enough time to be physical with our kids. So make sure to limit screen time for the entire family and set aside time to get outside and be active whenever possible. Take fun, active vacations: bike a volcano in Hawaii, take surfing lessons in Mexico, ski in Utah, etc.